I have been addicted to an OTC nasal spray (Walmart brand of Afrin) for about a year. I have to use it before bed every night or I can't sleep. I've tried to go to bed without it, only to wake up a few hours later totally unable to breathe! Sometimes I have to use it during the day, but right now it is mostly a nighttime problem.
I saw an ENT earlier this year for recurrent severe tonsilitis and he removed my tonsils in March. I didn't think to say anything about this problem when I was in because the other problem was my main concern. Now I'm thinking I should go back and see him for help getting off this spray. I saw my family dr about a mo ago for a physical, but I didn't say anything. I'm thinking my ENT will be more help for this problem. What do you think???
I've been considering making an appt with him for months now, but I just keep putting it off because I am SOOOO embarrassed I've allowed myself to get addicted. I should've know better, but it just happened after I used it for a sinus infection last year. I don't even think my husband knows about my problem....I keep it all a secret. This addiction has gotten so out of control. I have to keep a bottle in my purse, medicine cabinet in the bathroom and one in my nightstand.
I've read about all the different remedies people have tried themselves, such as weaning one nostril at a time, diluting the nasal spray etc. Truth is, I don't think I have the willpower to do it myself. I've read about a product called Rhinostat, but I'm not sure how effective it is. So....I just keep contemplating calling my ENT.....I keep chickening out calling and making an appt because I feel like such an idiot. I don't want to even tell the receptionist why I need to come in. Isn't that stupid? I've just never seen a dr for such an embarrassing problem. Then I think I'll just go see my family dr because I know her better, but I'm thinking an ENT will be more knowledgeable.
I would love to hear some opinions and other people's experiences!
Rhinostat would probably help you but all it is a series of decongestant nasal sprays like the one you're already using that are progressively diluted to a weaker strength (so each day or two you're using slightly less of the decongestant). I don't know how much it costs but you can easily do the same thing yourself - here's how:
1. You'll need to wean yourself off of the decongestant spray by diluting it over several days. Doing that is pretty simple. Buy 3 new bottles of the spray, a bottle of Ayr saline mist, and a syringe or medicine dropper that has liquid measurements on the side. Wash your hands and make sure you're working on a clean surface. Use a clean paper towel to remove the top of the decongestant spray bottle and pour out 1/4 of the liquid in the bottle. Replace the liquid you poured out with the Ayr saline mist. Use the 3/4 strength decongestant spray for a day or two (at the most). Use the same process on the next bottle but dump out 1/2 of the decongestant spray and replace it with Ayr Saline, and on the final bottle dump out 3/4 of the decongestant spray and replace it with Ayr.
You should be able to wean yourself off of the decongestant in about a week, but depending on how addicted you are (how long you've been using it) it won't be easy. There are a couple of other things that will help.
2. Start taking an oral decongestant (Sudafed or a generic version) that contains pseudoephedrine (these are the decongestants that you can buy without a prescription but have to get from the pharmacist - don't bother with Sudafed PE or other decongestants that are out on the shelf and contain phenylephrine, they're not as effective). The 12 hour Sudafed is probably your best bet.
Oral decongestants don't cause the "rebound swelling" that Sinex does so you can take them without any fear of getting addicted.
3. Buy a SinusRinse starter kit and start irrigating your sinuses a couple of times a day - it will feel very weird at first but it will help soothe the irritation and swelling in your nasal passage.
If you can see an ENT doctor there are two other things the doctor can prescribe that will really help - a short course of oral prednisone and a steroid nasal spray like Flonase (both of which you need a prescription for). Both of these will help minimize the rebound swelling and if you can get the prescriptions you probably won't need to wean yourself off the decongestant spray, you can just stop cold turkey the first day you take the prednisone and let your body adjust while the prednisone keeps the swelling at bay.
Flixonase (Fluticasone) works well for many people. There are other options if it's not working for you, including Rhinocort AQ and Nasonex. You might see if your doctor will prescribe a different spray to see if it helps more.
Thanks...I think I will try to get an appt with my ENT to see what he can do for me. He is a very well known dr in our area, the best ENT, and I'm sure he can help. I'm just wondering....do you think the nasal spray has done permenant damage? I've read some people say they go through multiple bottles/week! Maybe one bottle/month for me and I'm only using it mostly at night. I wonder if the longer you use the spray, does it get worse and worse so you have to use more of the nasal spray??
I wonder if the longer you use the spray, does it get worse and worse so you have to use more of the nasal spray??
That's exactly what happens. The spray is safe to use for a few days to shrink swollen tissues in your nose but, over time, it requires more of the spray to shrink those tissues and they actually "rebound" and swell to become larger than normal as the spray wears off.
There's also a preservative in the spray called benzalkonium chloride that some researchers believe can damage the tissues in your nose when used for a long period of time, but there's no real conclusive answer one way or another as to whether it causes permanent damage.
It is really important that you get off of the spray so that your nasal tissues can get back to normal.
Hi...yes, it is humiliating to get addicted to Afrin type nasal sprays...recently I got addicted to it horribly; read all of the suggestions here; tried just treating one nostril; but in desperation went to see my family doctor, who also practices accupuncture. She was very simpathetic; gave me an Rx for an expensive spray that is NOT addictive, but helps to shrink the swollen vessels. It is called Rhinocort Aqua nasal spray (a cortizone). It is used only once a day, and will heal the nostrils. She also suggested taking sudafed nasal decongenstant pills, and buying some Fisherman's Friend cough lozenges. Then she gave me accupunture...it was miraculous...my totally stuffed up nose opened up as never before. When it gets a little stuffy, I put a little vicks on the sides of my nose where she put the tiny needles, and I message those points with the vicks, and once again I am breathing deeply. I don't even know if I will need to use the Rx. The accuptuncture was absolutely amazing...incredible results.
Hope this helps someone.
I just want to say that there are a some websites that have some ideas on how to get off of nasal spray and it it good to check them out. some don't work and some do. I have come up with one myself. I can't list my website on here, of coarse, but after being on nose spray for almost 8 years, I had tried just about everything and finally came up with something myslef. it is safe, it takes some time, but it works. and there is a bunch of info about nasal spray addiction on there.